Andrew Leonard of Salon.com muses on tweeting, the madness-of-crowds, and echo chambers in a post-Oscar essay, Titter’s Unstoppable Humor Police: We’re all Hate-Watchers Now.
“Salon alumnus Damien Cave, now a reporter based in Mexico for the New York Times, observed in a tweet that “every joke that’s not PC causes an uproar. Funny or not, the humor policing is pretty intense tonight.” My hackles rise whenever the words “political correctness” enter the discourse, because it usually happens in a context where legitimate complaints are being downplayed by whomever is getting critiqued for being racist or sexist or anti-Semitic or homophobic or whatever. But Cave is on to something. The humor police were intense on Twitter Sunday night. In fact, they’re intense every night.
There are no free passes on Twitter. Every stumble, every perceived outrage, every moment of weakness or arrogance gets instant crowd-mob treatment. There’s always been something exhilarating about this new medium for instant fact-checking and collective calling-to-account, but at the same time, there’s never been a better megaphone invented for broadcasting mass sanctimony. Lashing out is just so easy. The first tweet to crack the whip gets retweeted around the world before you can say the words ‘echo chamber.’
At times during Sunday night’s broadcast, I got the feeling that all over the world, people were sitting at the edge of their couches, smartphones in hand, just waiting for MacFarlane to feed their rage so they could tweet about it. And as the evening went on, that dynamic fed on and magnified itself. I’m not saying MacFarlane didn’t deserve it: quite the opposite, he did everything but get down on his knees and beg for it. But there was also a madness-of-crowds aspect to the whole experience that made me glad I wasn’t in a place where I could get physically trampled.” –Andrew Leonard, Salon.com 25 Feb 2013